Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao
|Form of government
||People's Democratic Republic
||UTC + 7
|Telephone area code
The Democratic People's Republic of Laos is located
in Southeast Asia and covers an area of 236,800 km2,
about two thirds of the area of Germany. The country
borders China in the north, Vietnam in the east,
Cambodia in the south and Thailand and Myanmar in the
Laos is mostly mountainous, only about 10% of the
country's area consists of lowlands or basin landscapes.
In the north there are densely forested mountain ranges
with heights of up to 2,000 m, which are very impassable
due to deep valley cuts and gorges. Between the
individual peaks are plateaus such as the Tran Ninh
plateau, which is around 1,200 m above sea level. In the
north of the country there is also the highest peak, the
Phou Bia at 2,820 m. The east of Laos is characterized
by the Annamite Cordillera, the peaks of which reach
heights of up to 2,000 m and form the border with
neighboring Vietnam. To the west, the country slopes
down in terraces to a height of approx. 500 m.
In the southwest are the fertile lowlands of the
country around the Mekong River. The Mekong is one of
the largest rivers in Southeast Asia (4,500 km in
total), rises in the highlands of Tibet and flows into
the South China Sea in Vietnam. The Mekong and its
numerous, often fast-flowing tributaries play a very
important role in the irrigation of agricultural land
and for electricity generation in Laos. The capital
Vientiane (Viangchan) is located in the northwest of the
country on the Mekong.
In Laos there is a tropical monsoon climate with
year-round high temperatures and a pronounced rainy
season: from May to October, the southwest monsoon
brings in humid air masses, on average between 1,000 mm
and 2,000 mm of precipitation are measured annually, in
the mountainous regions it can be up to 4,000 mm. The
months of November to February are low in rain, the
northeast monsoon ensures somewhat cooler temperatures:
average temperatures in the north of the country are
around 15 กใ C in January, and 23 กใ C in the south. In
July the average is 28 กใ C in the north and 30 กใ C in
the south. Hottest month is the rainless April.
Flora and fauna
About 50% of the country's area is covered with
tropical forests. Deciduous monsoon forest can be found
in the south and evergreen rain and mountain forest in
the rainy regions in the north. Some of the plateaus in
the northern mountainous region have savannas.
The animal kingdom is as rich in species as the
country's flora. The dense forests and inaccessible
mountain landscapes offer a suitable habitat for many
animals that are already considered extinct in other
countries. Rare species include the Java rhinoceros and
the Siamese lyre. Tigers, leopards, various types of
monkeys and tapirs also live in the country. There are
numerous elephants that are particularly protected as
A total of around 6.15 million people live in Laos,
most of them in the lowlands of the Mekong, while many
mountain regions are practically uninhabited. Around 20%
of the population live in cities, the capital Vientiane
is by far the largest city in the country with 530,000
residents. There are around 70 peoples in Laos, which
are divided into three large groups: The largest share
of the total population is made up of the Lao-Lum (68%),
who belong to the Thai people and form the
state-supporting people. The second largest group are
Lao-Theung (22%), whose traditional habitat is the
mountainous regions of the country and the descendants
of the Mon and Khmer.
According to COUNTRYAAH,
the third large group is the Lao-Soung (9%), the Lao
mountain peaks, which are divided into many different
peoples and whose ancestors immigrated mainly from
China. Chinese, Vietnamese and members of Indian peoples
form only small minorities in Laos. The official
language is Lao, which is one of the Thai languages.
Almost two thirds of the population are followers of
Buddhism, almost a third practice animistic religions.
Christians and Muslims are religious minorities.
The standard of living in Laos is low, there is no
state social security system and no comprehensive
medical care; the average life expectancy is therefore
only 55 years, the population growth is 1.7%. On
average, every woman has five children. The literacy
rate - especially among women - is still very low; only
two thirds of Laotians can read and write. HIV / AIDS is
a growing problem.
According to the constitution of August 1991, Laos is
a People's Democratic Republic, with the communist
government party LRVP (Lao Revolutionary People's Party)
being the only political party allowed. The head of
state is the President elected by the National Assembly
for five years (Choummaly Sayasone since June 2006). He
appoints the cabinet after approval by the National
Assembly. The Prime Minister (since December 2010
Thongsing Thammavong) is appointed by the President
after recommendation by the National Assembly and
presides over the Council of Ministers (term of office
The National Assembly consists of a chamber with 132
seats; the members are elected by the people for a term
of five years.
Laos is divided into 16 provinces and the prefecture
Laos is one of the fastest growing economies in the
world. The Laotian government has successfully
liberalized the economy since the mid-1980s; growth of
up to 9% has been achieved in recent years. However,
this high rate of increase is based on a very low basis.
27% of Laotians still live below the poverty line.
The most important industry in Laos is agriculture.
Three quarters of all employed people work here, a third
of the gross domestic product is generated in this way.
The main crops are rice, cassava, sweet potatoes,
vegetables, coffee, sugar cane, tobacco, cotton, tea and
peanuts. Forestry is of great importance.
Industry is slowly increasing its productivity and is
now responsible for 35% of GDP. The strong demand for
mining products (especially gold, copper and iron ore)
and the export of electricity are driving growth. The
practically non-existent infrastructure and the small
number of trained workers represent major obstacles for
The Asian Free Trade Area (AFTA), founded in 1994,
includes all ten member states of the ASEAN (Association
of South-East Asian Nations) and thus also Laos. The
ASEAN Free Trade Agreement entered into force in 2002.
The most important trading partner for exports (copper,
agricultural and forestry products, clothing) and for
imports (machines, vehicles, industrial goods, precious
metals) is Thailand, followed by China and Vietnam.
The road network covers a total of around 13,000 km,
only a fraction of which is paved. There is an
international airport near the capital Vientiane.
The Lao currency is the kip.